Sonoma County Officials To Examine Frequent Emergency Room Users
Emergency medical officials in Sonoma County will study people who use emergency rooms more than five times per year at Sutter and Memorial hospitals using a $100,000 grant from the California Endowment and the California HealthCare Foundation, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The study, which is part of the organizations' Frequent Users of Health Services Initiative, will gather records from the emergency rooms -- Sonoma County's two largest -- to determine why patients sought treatment in the ER and if they should have been using another medical facility. Patients who frequently use ERs have "long troubled hospitals concerned about overcrowding and long waits for urgent care," the Press Democrat reports. Use of emergency rooms by patients who are uninsured or could have treated by a primary care physician accounts for 10% to 25% of ER business. "Every ER knows they have frequent visitors, but we don't know yet how many there are and whether they should have had more appropriate treatment elsewhere," Bruce Lee, director of the Coastal Valley Emergency Services Agency, said. Lee added, "Some people have limited access to primary care doctors and they end up in the ER as their safety net. This project could be important in identifying these people and developing interventions that could send them in more appropriate directions like social services, drug counseling or other medical services." The study, which is expected to take a year to complete, is administered by Medi-Cal and will also study emergency rooms in Alameda , Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 9/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.